Welcome to our Parent Newsletter. The aim of this is to reflect our students’ journeys once they enter the school gates and how their curriculum reflects our Academy intent pillars of Ambition, Enrichment and Success.
Curriculum Spotlight on English
Within the curriculum spotlight strand we wish to open the door to the classroom so parents can understand how it feels to be a learner at Carlton le Willows, and engage with their child’s learning. For this first edition we are focusing on the English Department.
This year, a key aspect of all English lessons has been the importance of taking part in lessons as an active learner. All teachers have been working hard to implement active learning strategies with active reading at its core. In a typical English lesson, we (unsurprisingly!) read a lot of different texts, from novels and drama to poetry and non-fiction. Often, we read for an extended period and so it is important that students remain focused so they can retain information for questions they will be asked later. First, students are expected to sit up straight and visually track the text while the teacher or another student reads aloud. This is just the beginning though; to be an active reader students must engage with the text while we read. In the typical classroom this takes three phases or steps over the course of the lesson which support students to be become both active and more independent.
Step 1: I do – the teacher models active reading practice. This might mean they annotate a text while reading aloud, or stop to explain key vocabulary.
Step 2: We do – as the student gains more autonomy, they are expected to take a more active role. They may be expected to answer questions about their understanding, or they may be given ‘jobs’ to do, for example finding information or highlighting key information or vocabulary as we read.
Step 3: You do – at this stage students are expected to work more independently. Often this will mean they read a section of the text independently and analyse the writer’s choices of language, or they may be asked to summarise the writer’s key ideas in their own words.
Through these steps, not only are students more able to write extended independent answers in their English lessons, but they are also becoming more resilient readers. This makes them more successful in all their subjects, not just English.
Please talk to your child not just about what they are reading but how they are reading. This is particularly important as they get older and reach Key Stage 4 as these skills form a key part of their revision.
The Importance of Reading Regularly
Since September we have been highlighting the importance of reading to the students. We have extra reading in lessons for Key Stage 3 classes across the curriculum, reading for pleasure sessions in form time and library lessons for Years 7, 8 and 9 within the English curriculum. Students can borrow a library book and we would like to encourage them to read at least twenty minutes each day as this helps to expand the vocabulary knowledge of the students. University research has discovered that reading for this amount of time per day equates to a person reading two million words a year, thus developing, and expanding the vocabulary of the person. It is our aim that all our students have opportunities to read for pleasure in school and that they read at home so that they are exposed to the rich language used in texts in to develop their own vocabularies.
During this academic year, the students have undertaking New Group Reading Tests (NGRTs) in Key Stage 3 classes. These tests have generated a reading age for every student. Where students have a reading age below their actual age in years and months, we have identified a need for reading intervention and these students will receive extra reading with our new Reading Intervention teacher, Mr Seaton, who is a specialist in phonics and developing reading.
Mrs Coutt’s Book of the Month
At Carlton le Willows we run a Brilliant Book Award Book Club. We meet every week in the LRC.
The Brilliant Book Award is managed by the Nottinghamshire Education Library Service and supported by The Bookcase at Lowdham.
The timetable for the award runs from September 2022 to March 2023 and is open to KS3 students in schools in Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City and Derbyshire.
Schools can submit suggested titles for the longlist until June 2022. The shortlisted titles will be announced in November 2022. Students in participating schools then read all the shortlisted books and vote for their favourite title. The winner will be announced in March 2023.
Nisha’s War by Dan Smith
Nisha's war is a thrilling historical ghost story full of adventure and mystery. A story of family and friendship, of belonging and acceptance, and loss and hope.
The Author Dan Smith will be talking to our book group on his book Nisha's War, which is one of six books shortlisted for this year’s Brilliant Book Award.
Gallery of Excellence highlighting student work.
In English, Year 10 students have been completing home work that will help them learn how to revise.
Students work from memory to complete these ‘brain dump’ exercises. The most important aspect of this is taking part; students need to understand where they have gaps in their knowledge to be able to revise effectively.
Dual coding is a form of revision where students use an image or symbol to help them remember an idea visually. In this piece of home work students have transformed their ideas into a visual image.
A-Level Media Studies are also using the brain dump technique to revise for their mock exams next week. This student began by working from memory using a mini whiteboard, then used their notes to fill any gaps in their knowledge. By then working with a peer they were able to evaluate where their gaps in knowledge were.
Students have been learning about different French speaking regions of the world in the Francophone Club. This is held afterschool on Thursdays. If your child would like to join, they should see Miss Ross, Head of Languages.
In Geography students have completed homework on the volcanic eruption of Mt St Helens in 1980. Taking pride in the presentation of our work is particularly important as it reflects a student’s attitude towards their learning. It also prepares students for the professionalism required in their workplaces in the future.
In German students are working hard in the ‘You Do’ phase of their lessons where they work independently.
The teacher feedback ‘WWW’ (What Went Well) tells students where they have met the assessment criteria, ‘EBI’ (Even Better If) gives them ideas for how to improve their work, which they do in purple pen.